A week ago today- on orders from Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (PSREC) Board of Directors and General Manager Bob Marshall, trucks arrived at our house- demanded to install a meter that emits radiation my doctor has advised them in writing is dangerous to my health- and when we refused, crews disconnected the power at the pole, leaving us to cope with no electricity in an all-electric house. The day after, they were back with a camera and a telephoto lens, taking photos into our home.
And all this from a supposed “cooperative.”
Because of the drought in California and other factors (including PSREC’s $50 million debt) they are raising rates that are already higher than PG&E’s (some of the highest in the US). We attended a meeting on rate increases last night in Portola, and PSREC General Manager Bob Marshall grew very agitated when he realized I was filming the meeting and my partner’s comments about our illegal disconnection. That’s strange as they seem to have no problem filming us. Yet when I record a utility rate-setting meeting, I am threatened with the sheriff. Lovely.
I called Bob Marshall earlier in the day and insisted that PSREC switch on our electricity, as we are paying customers. He literally screamed at me, telling me he would “leave us in the dark” and calling me a “clown.” That’s right folks, he’s just disconnected the electricity to the home of paying customers and we are the bullies. I assume the “threats” he refers to in the above video were in fact me letting him know in no uncertain terms that we would be speaking to local governments and the media about our disconnect and fees. In other words, publicizing and criticizing PSREC’s bad behavior.
Notice just after the 2 minute mark, Bob Marshall is beckoned by (ironically enough) the same guy who filmed our home the day after our service was cut. He tells Bob that I am recording the meeting, and Bob flies into a rage, interrupting public comment and demanding I leave. What is so bad about videotaping a meeting? There were no signs prohibiting it. What are they so afraid of?
My partner had this to say about the video above:
Watching this footage from last night causes me a great deal of sadness. Not only because of what Josh and I are going through, but also because I see, in Bob Marshall’s totally inappropriate behavior, an educated, professional man, respected in the community, coming undone. This makes me sad.
What I have tried to get through to PSREC is that we don’t want to take them down. To see Mr. Marshall so angry and acting so out of line is the exact opposite of the outcome I hope for. I would like to see him accept the evidence that PSREC’s wireless transmitting meters cause harm. I would like him to recognize that charging us for an analog when others have one for free is unfair. I want Mr. Marshall and all of the PSREC board to rise up, open their minds to the facts, and do right by their community.
Living without electricity this past week has been difficult, time consuming, and frustrating, as I have had to completely rework my home and habits to accommodate this change in our entirely electric (no gas) house. And yet we have tried to make the most of it. We’ve enjoyed the quiet simplicity of a card game. We go to bed earlier. Food tastes delicious when cooked on a wood stove. Candlelight is romantic. We feel very fortunate that we have the life skills and good health necessary to carry wood, heat up large pots of water, function by candlelight. We know that not everyone who has been cut off is capable of enduring, while others have endured for nearly a year, and our hearts are with them all in solidarity.
Standing up for what you know is right can be stressful and scary but is extremely worthwhile and affirming. We feel extremely grateful and cheered by all of the comments, well wishes, and advocacy from our neighbors and our friends fighting smart meters. Thank you. Reading your words brings light into our evenings.
A friend said yesterday that we aren’t going to get anywhere if PSREC is the enemy. I couldn’t agree more. Mr. Marshall and the PSREC board are affected by wireless just like everybody else who is made of flesh and blood. Our interests are their interests. There is no us and them. We all need to be able to work together.